Photo by Mark Teasdale courtesy of Flickr
Now is the time of year where we turn inward and set resolutions for ourselves in the coming year. In thinking about New Years’ resolutions for 2015, we thought we should also set some for Congress, which had a pretty unproductive 2014. Here are our top three:
- Pass a budget. You know those resolutions you make year after year with the best of intentions, that never seem to stick? Well, this probably falls under that category for Congress, which hasn’t passed a budget under normal procedures since 1994. That’s right – 20 years ago! In 2015, we call on Congress to get to work after the release of the President’s budget to break the streak and pass the 12 separate appropriations bills that are supposed to make up the budget, and to do so by October 1.
- Reform immigration and fund the Department of Homeland Security. In the fiscal year 2015 “cromnibus” that will fund most of the government through the end of September, lawmakers intentionally left one thing undone: the Department of Homeland Security is funded only through February. Lawmakers should provide common sense immigration reform as well as stable, predictable funding for the Department of Homeland Security by the end of February.
- Raise the debt ceiling. Raising the debt ceiling allows the U.S. Treasury to keep borrowing money as needed to pay for spending that Congress has already legislated. If the debt ceiling – the amount of money that Treasury is legally allowed to borrow – is reached, it could result in a government shutdown worse than what we’ve seen recently, one in which even “essential” services are cut off. Exactly when we’ll reach the debt ceiling is uncertain. The 2014 debt ceiling suspension lasts through March, but the government will likely have enough revenue to continue to function for a few months after that. Sooner or later, lawmakers will have to deal with it.
Gridlock is so 2014. Here’s hoping Congress is headed for a more productive 2015.